Press Release Meetings & Events

Endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure in womb impact fear, anxiety behavior in rats

Atlanta, GA June 11, 2022

Prenatal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in everyday products may interfere with the developing offspring’s brain, according to a rat study being presented June 13, 2022, at ENDO 2022, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

P.S. MohanKumar, Ph.D., professor at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., and colleagues, focused on the gestational effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals bisphenol A (BPA) and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), and if they would change stress-related behaviors.

“This research is significant because prenatal exposure to these chemicals may contribute to mood disorders later in life,” said study co-author Amrita Kaimal, Ph.D., of the University of Georgia Neuroscience Graduate Program. 

A total of 76 Sprague-Dawley rats were used for the study. After the rats were mated, pregnant female rats were administered oral saline, BPA, a combination of BPA and low-dose DEHP, or a combination of BPA and high-dose DEHP during days 6-21 of pregnancy. All of the doses were adjusted according to the body weight of the rat. 

Behavioral tests were conducted in adult offspring, and brains from the rats were analyzed for monoamine neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin. 

Female offspring administered BPA and a combination of BPA and low-dose DEHP displayed less anxiety in the Open Field Test, which measures activity and exploratory behavior. However, male offspring administered high-dose DEHP showed feminized anxiety-like behavior in a maze. Fear responses among male offspring in most of the groups exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals were impaired in a test examining the response to a threatening object. Interestingly, low-dose endocrine disruptors led to passive coping strategies in male and female offspring.

Brain studies indicate male offspring in the BPA, low-dose and high-dose DEHP, and BPA and high-dose DEHP groups had diminished dopamine levels in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus. This is associated with their impaired fear response.

“Our study confirms sex-specific behavioral changes in offspring as a result of these exposures, highlighting the fact that exposure to these chemicals should be avoided during pregnancy,” MohanKumar said.

 

About Endocrine Society

Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.

Media Contacts

Colleen Williams Senior Communications Manager, Public Relations Phone: (202)-971-3611 [email protected]

Jenni Glenn Gingery Director, Communications and Media Relations Phone: (202)-971-3655 [email protected]

All News & Advocacy

Hill Event
Podcast

Endocrine News Podcast

EndocrineNewsPodcast
The Endocrine News podcast brings you the latest research and clinical advances from experts in the field, whether you are in your car, office, or out for a run.

The Endocrine News podcast brings you the latest research and clinical advances from experts in the field, whether you are in your car, office, or out for a run.

Bench to Bedside

Endocrine Society Journals

Research
Our top-ranked peer-reviewed journals are among the first to publish major developments and discovery milestones.

Our top-ranked peer-reviewed journals are among the first to publish major developments and discovery milestones.

Back to top

Who We Are

For 100 years, the Endocrine Society has been at the forefront of hormone science and public health. Read about our history and how we continue to serve the endocrine community.